Dozens of faculty members at the Berlin University for the Arts (UDK) — Germany’s leading academic body for study of art, music and culture — have attached their signatures to an open letter condemning the rise of antisemitism on campus and in society more widely, two months after students at the institution staged a pro-Hamas protest that drew angry accusations of antisemitism.
“With this letter, we, the undersigned teachers and employees of the Berlin University of the Arts, would like to position ourselves clearly and emphatically against antisemitism at our university and in our society,” the letter, published on the university’s website, stated.
The university is still reeling from a protest organized by pro-Hamas students in November that alluded to the brutal murder of two Israeli reservists in the West Bank nearly 25 years ago.
Carrying banners declaring “Stop Genocide,” “End Colonialism,” and “Free Palestine,” the students sat around a table with their palms facing outwards painted in red ink to symbolize blood. While the gesture was apparently intended to condemn the German government’s support for Israel’s defensive military operation in Gaza, several observers noted a striking similarity with the notorious lynching of two IDF reservists, Vadim Nurzhitz and Yosef Avrahami, in the West Bank city of Ramallah in Oct. 2000. In an outburst of intense violence reminiscent of the Oct. 7 Hamas pogrom in southern Israel, Nurzhitz and Avrahami were brutally murdered and their bodies mutilated by a Palestinian mob while both were in the custody of Palestinian Authority (PA) police officers.
“We are shaken by the violent antisemitic protests and actions at our university,” the faculty letter declared. “We condemn the performance of Nov. 13. 2023, in which an iconic intifada sign was presented, which refers to the lynching of two Israelis; the call for strikes on Nov. 29 2023, in which Hamas terror was put into perspective; as well as all other protests in which anti-Semitic content was shared and disseminated in the name of solidarity with Palestine. Antisemitism is not an opinion, but a form of discrimination that, like other inhumane narratives, does not fall under freedom of speech or art.”
Among the signatories to the letter was UdK president Norbert Palz, who was shouted down when he attempted to reason with the students at the protest in November.
One of the initiators of the letter told the Zeit news outlet that almost no academics teaching at UdK’s Faculty of Fine Arts had agreed to sign it.
“There is a crack at UdK around the attitudes towards Israel, which seems to be less between teachers and students than between departments,” the unnamed person observed.
The post Academics at Top Berlin University Issue Open Letter Highlighting Rising Antisemitism first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
The Washington Post Covers for UNRWA, Again
A United Nations agency has been caught helping Hamas. The Washington Post, however, is here to help both the genocidal terrorist group and the corrupt organization that shares its ultimate objective: the destruction of the Jewish state.
A Jan. 30, 2024 Post column entitled “Biden’s cutoff of Palestinian aid is inhumane and strategically stupid” was a veritable whitewash of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), whose employees took part in the Oct. 7, 2023, Hamas-led invasion of Israel, the largest massacre of Jewish civilians since the Holocaust.
On Jan. 26, Philippe Lazzarini, UNRWA’s commissioner-general, acknowledged that Israeli authorities had provided the organization with “information about the alleged involvement of several UNRWA employees in the horrific attacks on Israel.” Lazzarini stated that he had “immediately terminated the contracts of these staff members.”
Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin noted that “12 U.N. employees in Gaza” allegedly participated in the attack, noting that, “if found guilty” they “deserve no sanctuary and no mercy.” He also said that “UNRWA has big questions to answer about this and other instances of some of its 13,000 employees seeming support for violence against Israelis.”
But Rogin declined to elaborate on what some of these “other instances” were. No additional facts were given. Instead, Rogin devoted most of his column to calling Biden administration cuts to UNRWA “cruel” and counterproductive. Cuts to UNRWA, he warned, “will have ripple effects that will make solving all of the Middle East’s problems more difficult.”
It is far from certain whether solving “all of the Middle East’s problems” should be a US objective, let alone whether that is obtainable.
However, what it is certain is that eight decades after the end of World War II, UN employees helped carry out the largest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust. And far from being outliers, their behavior is reflective of UNRWA itself. The UN agency’s support for murdering Jews is endemic. It is also extensively documented. And Rogin declined to provide examples that were already in the public domain.
Indeed, as The Wall Street Journal reported before Rogin’s column ran, intelligence reports indicate that no fewer than a dozen UNRWA employees “had connections” to the Oct. 7 massacre, and at least six took part in the attack. At least two others helped kidnap Israelis, and others “were tracked to sites where Jewish civilians were shot and killed.” The Journal also noted that “others coordinated logistics for the assault, including procuring weapons.” UNRWA vehicles and facilities were also used.
Far from a case of “a few bad apples,” as both UNRWA and its apologists in the press would have the world believe, UNRWA’s complicity is extensive. Intelligence estimates shared with the Journal indicate that no fewer than 1,200 of its employees in Gaza “have links to Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad, about half have close relative who belong” to these US-designated terror groups.
Put another way: how many UN employees aiding and abetting the systemic slaughter of Jews is too many before US taxpayers quit the footing the bill?
Indeed, as the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA) has documented, UNRWA’s terror ties are not only extensive, but they’ve long been public knowledge. In 2014, for example, terrorists were caught using UNRWA facilities to launch attacks. The UN’s own internal investigation acknowledged as much. And then the UN did what it does best — nothing. No real changes were made, and the problem went unaddressed.
Indeed, a 2014 report by the Center for Near East Policy research found that Hamas and Islamic Jihad “control the UNRWA stations in Gaza.” Two years earlier, in 2012, “UNRWA in Gaza elected Hamas to all 11 seats in UNRWA’s teachers’ union.”
All of this, of course, is as unsurprising as it is disturbing.
UNRWA’s core mission is the destruction of the Jewish state. While all of the world’s other refugee populations fall under the jurisdiction of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, UNRWA is the only entity devoted to a sole category: “Palestinian refugees.” Uniquely, UNRWA’s definition of what constitutes a “refugee” includes people who are generations removed from the 1948 War of Independence, people who are citizens of new states, and people who live in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip — places that Palestinians themselves claim as part of a future Palestinian state.
In contrast to the UNHCR, UNRWA’s definition of “refugee” is not aid dependent. The UNHCR seeks to settle refugees — that is its mission. By contrast, UNRWA seeks to perpetuate the Israel-Islamist conflict, not only by actively aiding Hamas but by maintaining the fiction that one can be a millionaire, American-born model like Gigi Hadid and be a “refugee.”
According to UNRWA’s doctrine, these “refugees” will maintain their “refugee” status until they settle in Israel, a land that many weren’t even in born in. The sole purpose of this doctrine is the destruction of the Jewish state.
UNRWA perpetuates the conflict in other key ways. In addition to being massively corrupt — pound for pound UNRWA receives more money than UNHCR despite dealing with far fewer refugees — the organization is openly antisemitic. As a recent UN Watch report revealed, antisemitism is rife among UNRWA teachers and staff.
Indeed, entire books, such as 2020’s The War of Return by Einat Wilf and Adi Schwarz, have extensively — and irrefutably — profiled the pernicious role that UNRWA plays.
Nor can UNRWA’s promises of an “investigation” be trusted. As Eitan Fischberger documented, several of the groups chosen by UNRWA to review UNRWA have expressed support for groups like Al-Haq, the legal arm of the Popular Front For Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), itself a terrorist group.
All of this important context is omitted in the Post’s column, which calls for American taxpayers to keep funding a UN Agency that both condones, and commits, the murder of Jews.
But Rogin needn’t worry. UNRWA USA is still a 501 (c)3, capable of receiving tax-deductible donations. And more importantly, UNRWA continues to receive copious funds from the US. As Victoria Coates and Brent Sadler of the Heritage Foundation revealed, “99.8 percent of U.S. funding to UNRWA has already been delivered, leaving only .2 percent to be ‘paused’ by the Biden administration.”
Both Hamas and The Washington Post should be happy: UNRWA will almost certainly keep functioning just as it always has.
The writer is a Senior Research Analyst for CAMERA, the 65,000-member, Boston-based Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis.
New IDF Draft Bill Draws Backlash from Across Israeli Political Spectrum
The Knesset, Israel’s parliament, sought to introduce changes to military conscription law to increase the service duty of all reservists, eliciting fierce backlash from across the political spectrum. Opposition to the bill, introduced by Israel’s ruling Likud party, highlighted that the proposed law does not address the lack of recruitment by the ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel, who generally are not drafted to the Israel Defence Force (IDF).
“Hundreds of IDF soldiers fell in the war. Thousands were injured,” said MK Hili Tropper, a member of War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz National Unity party. “And against the background of the intention to put another burden on the shoulders of the servants, the truth must be told: the fallen do not come from all sectors. Indeed, many in the ultra-Orthodox sector volunteer, study, pray in memory of the fallen, visit the wounded and that is blessed, but they do not share in the burden of the service. These things are not said to divide, God forbid, and it is absolutely not from hatred of ultra-Orthodox. It’s for the love of Israel,” he continued.
The new changes call for an extension of mandatory service from 32 months to three years, as well as increasing the age that reservists must serve. The bill does not, as mentioned, discuss the issue of ultra-Orthodox conscription, despite many calls prior to include it.
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich called on the ultra-Orthodox to enlist, saying
“The ultra-Orthodox public is dear and loved and contributes a lot to the State of Israel, and it is now essential that it also take a more significant part in the tasks of defense and security. This move should happen out of dialogue and discussion and not by coercion or, God forbid, by defamation. Religious Zionism proves that it is possible to combine Torah study and observance of minor and severe mitzvot together with military service at the front. My ultra-Orthodox brothers, we need you!”
National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who is in charge the police, tweeted “Come and join the police. This is the order of the hour!”
MK Tali Gottlieb from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party added “I said that even before the war, and certainly now, I will not vote for the conscription law that leaves exemption from conscription intact. And not just me. Equality in the burden is at the basis of our existence. Wartime in Israel. [Obligatory] war. Everyone is enlisting. We will all sit together, left, right, religious and secular, and come to an agreed upon law. Together we fight, together we win and together we volunteer. Everyone is in service.”
The leaders of the ultra-Orthodox parties and their religious leaders have yet to chime in on the proposed law.
The post New IDF Draft Bill Draws Backlash from Across Israeli Political Spectrum first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
How the Media Turned a Terrorist Mastermind Into the ‘Palestinian Nelson Mandela’
The “Palestinian Nelson Mandela” (Associated Press).
A “political prisoner” (Times of London).
The man most likely to serve “as a credible negotiator of a Palestinian state” (former Human Rights Watch chief Ken Roth).
These are just some of the terms that have been used to describe Marwan Barghouti in both traditional media and social media ever since it was revealed that, as part of its negotiations with Israel, Hamas is demanding Barghouti’s release from prison.
With Barghouti’s name back in the headlines, this is a good opportunity to remind both the media and the general public about who he really is and what his potential release could mean for Israel, the Palestinian Authority (PA), and regional stability.
No, @thetimes, Marwan Barghouti is not a “political prisoner.” He was convicted for the murder of five innocent civilians in three terrorist attacks.
— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) February 5, 2024
Born in the West Bank in 1959, Marwan Barghouti’s introduction to Palestinian terrorism came at the age of 15, when he joined Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement.
At that time, Fatah had already conducted numerous terror attacks against Israeli civilians and civilian infrastructure.
At the age of 19, Barghouti was imprisoned by Israel for four years for his role in a Fatah terror attack.
In 1987, Barghouti was charged with anti-Israel incitement and deported by Israel to Jordan.
In 1994, as part of the Oslo Accords, he returned to the West Bank and became heavily involved in Palestinian politics, gaining a seat in the 1996 Palestinian Legislative Council election.
In the late 1990s, Barghouti became the head of Fatah’s Tanzim faction, which was responsible for internal security but also led Fatah’s terrorist campaign against Israel during the Second Intifada.
Barghouti is also alleged to have been a founding member and senior official in the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, a Fatah-affiliated terrorist organization founded in 2000.
While Barghouti was initially supportive of the Oslo peace process in the late 1990s, he became more militant by the turn of the century, believing that only violence could bring about a final status agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
In 2000, Barghouti took a leading role in fomenting the Nakba Day riots in May and was instrumental in inciting the Temple Mount riots in September. The latter is widely seen as the beginning of the violent Second Intifada period.
Between 2000 and 2002, Barghouti headed Fatah in the West Bank, led the Tanzim and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, and headed the umbrella organization of Islamic and national forces, which was responsible for much of the terrorist activity during that time.
Initially, Barghouti advocated for focusing violence against Israeli soldiers and settlers (including men, women and children) but then expanded his campaign of terror to all of Israel.
In 2002, Barghouti was arrested by Israeli forces, and, in 2004, he was sentenced by the Tel Aviv District Court to five consecutive life terms for his role in the deaths of five victims of terror.
These victims included four Israelis murdered in two separate terror attacks (a shooting at a gas station near Jerusalem and a shooting/hand grenade attack at a Tel Aviv restaurant), and a Greek monk who was shot while driving near Jerusalem.
In addition, the court also found Barghouti guilty of orchestrating a failed suicide bombing outside a mall in Jerusalem and convicted him of heading a terrorist network.
In its verdict, the court found that Barghouti was morally responsible for many other attacks through his encouragement of terrorism, and was a key actor in acquiring funding from Yasser Arafat for Fatah terrorists.
Since his imprisonment, Barghouti has developed a mythic persona, portrayed as an ultimately peace-seeking Palestinian leader who is the only one able to unify the Palestinian factions and realistically attain a final status agreement with Israel.
However, this myth is unproven even if some media wish it were the reality.
In the more than 20 years that Barghouti has been in prison, he has made a number of statements, some of which appear to advocate for peace while others are more violent.
For example, in January 2012, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported that Barghouti had announced to reporters while at a court appearance that the withdrawal of Israel to the 1967 lines would bring an end to the conflict.
However, less than three months later, Barghouti smuggled out a message from prison that called on the Palestinians to halt peace negotiations with and boycott Israel, and sever all cooperation between the Palestinian Authority and Israel (including security coordination). The end of security coordination would ultimately lead to the rise in anti-Israel terror activities.
In 2014, Barghouti made two public statements, claiming the right of Palestinians to “resistance in all its forms” and advocating for the “re-adoption of the ‘resistance’ option” by the Palestinians.
As late as December 2023, as Israel was in the midst of battling Hamas in Gaza following the October 7 massacre, Barghouti released a message that called on the Palestinians in the West Bank to join the “resistance” against Israel, and specifically called on members of the Palestinian security services to turn their weapons against Israel.
It is commonly claimed that, as a popular Palestinian figure, Marwan Barghouti is the first in line to replace Mahmoud Abbas as president of the Palestinian Authority and that he will be able to both reform the PA and steer it toward a final status agreement with Israel.
However, according to analysts, this might not be the case.
In its study of Barghouti, the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center notes that the idea that Barghouti (who has been absent from the forefront of inter-Palestinian politics for over 20 years) is capable of becoming a Nelson Mandela-like figure, uniting all the Palestinian factions while re-igniting peace talks with Israel, is exaggerated.
While Barghouti’s long imprisonment and leadership of the Second Intifada have made him a popular figure on the Palestinian street, it is unclear if he enjoys the status that the Western media applies to him.
Even as far back as 2009, the Jerusalem Post’s Khaled Abu Toameh wrote that Marwan Barghouti’s image as the Palestinian Nelson Mandela was more a construct of the foreign media and less a sentiment shared by Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.
As an example of how Barghouti’s image might be larger than his actual influence, the Meir Amit Center points out that under his leadership, the 2017 Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike “was not overwhelmingly supported by the Fatah leadership and the PA, or the Palestinian public.”
It’s not only his questionable popularity that clouds the media’s glorification of Marwan Barghouti and anticipation of his possible release.
As Seth Mandel notes in a recent article for Commentary Magazine, Mahmoud Abbas is still clinging on to power as head of the PA. The release of his “more popular rival” is “a recipe for chaos.”
The havoc created by Palestinian infighting coupled with Barghouti’s well-known tactic of using terrorism to put pressure on Israel is a perfect storm that may lead the region into further violence and turmoil.
Thus, while the foreign media and political commentators may be laying the groundwork for welcoming Marwan Barghouti’s release, it is important to keep in mind that, despite the impression promoted by the media of a Palestinian Nelson Mandela, he is a convicted terrorist mastermind whose entrance into Palestinian politics may lead to more violence and a further deterioration of the security situation for both Palestinians and Israelis.
The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.
The post How the Media Turned a Terrorist Mastermind Into the ‘Palestinian Nelson Mandela’ first appeared on Algemeiner.com.